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Why We are LOVING Reality TV: A Breakdown of the Best Dating Shows out now

The world of dating through reality television has rapidly risen in popularity in recent years. Here is a breakdown of the best shows out now!

Collage of different reality TV stars and shows
Bachelor Nation on ABC/Netflix/Peacock/Kathy Hutchins/Martunes_tv

As reality television has grown to the forefront of entertainment, the undeniable dominance of on-screen dating has become a game changer. Dating shows are home to the cross between finding “true love” and inevitability, creating chaotic drama for viewers to invest in. I mean, what’s better than getting to watch a bunch of hot singles fall in love while constantly fighting? Practically nothing!

Reality TV has always been popular. We can look back at Paris Hilton’s “The Simple Life,” the legendary reality-competition television franchise “Survivor,” or the hilarious antics of the cast of “The Jersey Shore.”

In today’s reality television world, there has been a rising amount of popularity for dating shows. Without further ado, allow me to walk you through the TV production world of love and lust!

Watching reality dating shows
Shutterstock/Tero Vesalainen

The “Bachelor Nation” franchise

It is fair to say that The Bachelor laid the blueprint for the takeover of reality dating itself. This series is also the first to develop an entire brand based on its creation. What is the secret to its success?

Well, that’s simple: take about thirty women (or vice versa) and have them date one single bachelor (or bachelorette). It is the perfect mix of top-notch entertainment: love and jealousy. The Bachelor (28 seasons) and The Bachelorette (20 seasons) have had viewers whipped from their start in the early 2000s.

Many famous personalities have grown from this show- typically the watcher’s favorites- as they have gained major followings. People like Nick Viall, Hannah Brown, JoJo Fletcher, Tyler Cameron, Colton Underwood, Madison Prewett, Hannah Anne, and countless others have made their mark in all different aspects of the entertainment world following their time spent on the shows.

Various spin-offs have hit the stage in this world, like Bachelor in Paradise or The Golden Bachelor, because of “Bachelor Nations” mass success in the reality television space.

Youtube/Bachelor Nation on ABC
Youtube/Bachelor Nation on ABC

The Bachelor in Paradise

Luckily, we do not always have to say goodbye to some of our bachelor nation sweethearts. However, we may revisit some of the past seasons’ biggest villains as well in this spinoff to the original show.

The Bachelor in Paradise sets the stage for a second chance at love for past contestants who left their seasons without love. Structured significantly differently from its mothering show, single men and women come together on an island in Mexico to meet and form potential relationships.

To sum it up, they all date each other to see who makes it to the end as a steady couple! This show became a hit as viewers got to welcome back past cast members and watch them interact with others like them.

Various Bachelor Nation blueprint couples have come from this branch of the franchise. Some of the most iconic couples who are still together to this day are Dean Unglert and Caelynn Miller-Keyes, Joe Amabile and Serena Pitt, Hannah Godwin and Dylan Barbour, Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon, as well as Kevin Wendt and Astrid Loch.

Youtube/Bachelor Nation on ABC

Love Island

The big hitter of Love Island is its appeal to a worldwide audience and game show style. The concept of this series follows a group of singles in a beautiful villa where they live together for 6 to 8 weeks and attempt to build long-lasting relationships.

Although the UK version is the original starter of this show, it has since been produced in 21 additional countries. Due to its “game” nature, another unique aspect of this show is the viewers involvement of how it plays out! Throughout the islanders time in the villa (which is filmed and put out live), the people are often given opportunities to vote for their favorite contestants or couples. These votes contribute to who stays and goes home throughout the run of the show.

We see breakups, commitments, home wrecks, and everything else you can dream of in this high-intensity, competitive style of dating on TV.

Some stars have grown from participation in this show, such as Molly Mae and Tommy Fury, who grew to be a beloved internet couple, gaining millions of followers online and having their own reality show with Netflix called “At Home with the Furys.”

Another couple worth mentioning are Davide Sanclimenti and Ekin Su Culculoglu, who even had their own spin-off series called “Ekin-Su and Davide: Homecomings” and both signed major brand deals following their screen time on the show. However, it was confirmed in 2024 that they are no longer together as a couple, but both individuals remain undeniably successful.


Too Hot to Handle

Too Hot to Handle is one of the most known Netflix creations in the reality world. This is because it takes “hookup” culture and uses it to push young singles into forming something deeper.

The entire basis of the show is pretty much what we would call-cockblocking. The rules are to couple up and get to know each other, but you must abstain from any sexual activity, even kissing. At any point, physical interaction results in a deduction from the prize fund, which is revealed to everyone else in the villa as a rule break.

This show tests participants’ self-control and looks to create personal growth in its participants. Its mass success led to the creation of international versions following the same concepts as the original show.

The clout gained from this series is HUGE. Individuals who participated in this show, specifically the earlier seasons, have since blown up on social media. It even birthed reality television’s “it-boy,” Harry Jowsey, who went on to participate in Dancing With the Stars season 32.


Love is Blind

Love is Blind on Netflix explores the concept of whether emotional connections can trump physical attraction. Contestants start by dating in specially designed “pods,” where they can talk but cannot see each other, allowing them to build connections based solely on personality and emotional compatibility. If a couple feels a strong connection, the man can propose to the woman without having seen her. This is all happy and dandy until they meet face-to-face for the first time as an engaged couple.

At this stage, some realize emotions do not override attraction. If not, the engaged couples go on a retreat to get to know each other better in person. After the retreat, they move in together to experience everyday life as a couple and meet each other’s families and friends. This show ends on a pretty awkward wedding day, where the couples must decide at the altar whether they want to marry or break up. In front of their friends and family. You could see why this show is a big one.

The poster children for this show are Lauren Speed-Hamilton and Cameron Hamilton, who are now married for four years after meeting on the show. In the same season, Amber and Barnett are also very well known from the show are still together. They all have over a million followers on Instagram and became very popular on social media following their screen time.

This past season, the hectic love triangle between Jessica Vestal, Jimmy Presnell, and Chelsea Blackwell blew up on the internet.


Perfect Match

Another spinoff, this Netflix hit has a unique twist on reality television and dating overall. Perfect Match is a combination of competition, game-playing, romance, and betrayal. One of its best quirks is that it includes past reality stars from any show Netflix has aired, romantic or not.

The goal of the show is to find your “perfect match” and win. Watchers see many familiar faces along the way. Whether this occurs through pure love or by going after other couples, this show has it all. On the first night, pairs form based on if they have initial connection.

From there, games are played, and the winners of each day’s competition are sent to the “board room.” Here, they can send anyone they choose on dates with new people awaiting entrance into the house. They can aim to break up strong couples or just give others a chance to find a stronger connection with a new contestant.

At the end of each day, the new individuals join the house after their dates and are given the chance to talk to anyone they’d like. Before bed, everyone must match up again, and whoever is left alone must exit the house. Pretty brutal.

By the end, whoever is voted by a majority the “Perfect Match” by all the other cast members of the show wins a “honeymoon” vacation together to grow their relationship further. With only two seasons, this series has really popped off.

As previously mentioned, Harry Jowsey, a known figure starring in this show, made season 2 a big hit. Other valuable cast members who gained fame from being on the series have been Francesa Fargo, Dom Gabriel, Georgia Hassarati, Izzy Fairthorne, Stevan Ditter, Alara Taner, and various others.

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Hello! My name is Kim and I am working towards a degree in Journalism and Media Studies with a specialization in Global Studies at Rutgers University! I love to read and write and am very involved in current media which makes this the perfect path for me to pursue. Apart from chasing a career in the world of journalism, something I love to do outside of work is play lacrosse. I compete at a Division 1 level at my university and am very passionate about my sport. I hope you enjoy my work!

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